Toto, Prete lead Law to Invitational title

Jonathan Law’s Zack Toto and Caitlin Prete have that inner-drive, determination and spirit that the late Sheri Katzmartsic would’ve loved.

Law hosted what was the fourth annual Sheri Katzmartsic Invitational with Toto and Prete leading their respective boys and girls track teams to wins on the Charlie Phillips/Linwood Schulte Track on Friday.

Each competitor was part of the winning side in three events.

Toto captured the 200 meters (22.96), 400 meters (50.97) and anchored the winning 4x400 relay team of Ryan Siddall, Ryan Dennis, Doucette and Toto (3:32.70), all in record-setting time as the Lawmen eked out a 179-175 victory over Bunnell in the closest team finish in the meet’s history.

Toto was later selected as the boys’ track most outstanding performer, while his teammate Ray Cruz won on the field side.

Prete, like Toto, a senior, captured the 800 meters (2:32.28) and ran winning anchor legs on two relays (4x400 and the 4x800) and the Law girls dominated, taking the meet, 234-115 over Bunnell.

For her part, Prete was chosen as the girls track most outstanding athlete while Foran’s Lauren Polansky (first in the shot and second in the triple jump) was the field most outstanding athlete.

Katzmartsic was a star athlete at Law in the early 1990s before becoming a Milford educator. She died at the all-too young age of 34.

“When she (Katzmartsic) was a freshmen, I was told that she was a wonderful sprinter,” said current and long-time Law girls’ track coach Linwood Schulte.

“Then I found out how good she really was. It was almost impossible to believe that she was so good yet she was so sick.

“With Sheri, it was never about me, it was always about we. She was an amazing person.”

Toto will head off to the University of Rhode Island in the fall on a track scholarship, where he’ll major in marketing and minor in sports management.

I’m very happy to have broken my own records today,” he said. “The weather was perfect for running (cool, clear and in the lower 60s).

“I’ve never run both of those races (the 400 and the 800) so fast twice in a row. Now I’ve done it.”

Prete uses a strong kick and is a prolific finisher.

“She’s an athlete first,” Schulte said. “And, she’s very determined. In those relays, if she knows we’ve got a chance to win, her eyes open right up.”

“I’ve worked very hard to build up my endurance,” Prete said. “That’s been the difference.”

Prete will be off this fall to Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, where she’ll play volleyball, but she plans to continue running.

Cruz won the discus with a throw of 115-4 feet and was second in the shot put to teammate Nick Casagrande (42.1) with a toss of 38-5.

Law’s Mark Thibault won the pole vault with a leap of 11-6, while Jeremy Doucette was first in the 800 meters in 2:08.95.

The Law boys captured the 4x800 meters (Isaiah Otero, Chris Burnham, Jason Baker and Doucette) in 8:45.5.

Also turning in stellar performances on the girls side were Valerie Hiller (first in the 3,200 in 12:31.48 and second in the 1,600 in 5:49.20), along with freshman Jessica Centore, who won the 200 in 28.01, and Sarah Gambardella, who captured the 100 hurdles in 18:05 and placed second in the 300 hurdles (52.62).

Lauralton Hall was fourth overall in team points with 69 on the strength of wins from Emma Dunleavy in the 100 meters (13.10) and the 400 meters (1:02.74), where Law’s Catie Miller finished second.

The Law girls also swept all three relays.

“It was a fantastic meet for us,” said Law boys coach Joe Beler. “We won by the closest margin in four years and Zack was our big dog on the relay team. He’s such a good athlete because of his work ethic.

“He’s the leader out there. He brings our young runners along.”